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WITS Life Science Careers Forum Galway Update

  • 25 September 2019

We were delighted with the attendance and engagement at the WITS Life Science Careers Forum, held in Galway on September 14th at the Portershed. The venue provided an ideal space to talk about the many options and future opportunities available to graduates with life science qualifications. We were delighted to see some familiar faces on the panel – Susan Treacy, Dr. Niamh Cosgrave and Hazel Whelan from the Dublin Life Science Careers Forum, along with some new ones Lisa Scahill, Dr. Lisa McNally and Nicola Hickie. We were also delighted to connect with people who could not make it through our social media feed on Twitter with key takeaway points. The slides are available to download here.

"There is no perfect fit when you're looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have." Sheryl Sandberg

First up, Susan Treacy spoke about the changing face of healthcare, how this is impacting diagnostics and in turn the roles that are emerging. She talked about the career opportunities that can open up if you combine areas, for example IT or business with your life science qualification. Dr. Niamh Cosgrave spoke about her path from graduating to taking up her PhD and the options available to people considering this path. She described the sense of satisfaction she gets now in her corporate leadership role from mentoring and helping the next generation in the company. Lisa Scahill described her international career path in clinical research working in Ireland, Australia and Italy. She described the opportunities that this career path presented. She also described the satisfaction when seeing first hand through her current role, the impact that clinical trials can have on the improvement of patient’s lives. Hazel Whelan’s talk provided a real insight on how to look at your career and stressed there is plenty of time as a graduate to explore roles and build on your skills. She talked about the career pyramid where your STEM qualification offers a solid base for any career path.

Dr. Lisa McNally spoke about her impressive work as a paediatrician in Africa on management of respiratory infections in children in HIV endemic areas and her subsequent participation in research and publications that effected positive change in this area. She then described her move from being a working paediatrician to working in pharmacovigilance in pharma and the satisfaction this role gives her. Lisa had two of the key messages of the day from Sheryl Sandberg about jumping on board that rocket ship when you're offered a seat, and making opprtunities fit your needs rather than you making yourself fit them. Finally, Nicola Hickie discussed her career path having a Biochemistry background. She spoke about her move from the laboratory into regulatory affairs. Nicola described the sense of satisfaction she has in her role working with her European colleagues and nationally in Ireland on policy that protects patients and the public. The Q and A panel followed and the audience fully engaged with our speakers for advice and tips. It was noted by all of the speakers that being open to and embracing opportunities is important, as well as networking and reaching out to people working in the roles the graduates may envisage for themselves. Finally, it was stressed by the panel that all of the paths taken by the speakers were varied and in some cases not foreseen. Graduates should not feel worried if they do not know exactly where to go and feel confident that their STEM qualification will provide a great base for their future career.

"If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on." Sheryl Sandberg

Please see some feedback from the event:

‘I was delighted to attend an incredibly interesting forum in Galway this afternoon organised by Women in Technology and Science (WITS) Ireland. The six key note speakers from leading companies in Diagnostics, Industry, Business and Healthcare delivered very inspiring presentations, sharing valuable information about their STEM related careers. Listening to these women made me feel very proud and excited to be a woman working in science in Ireland today’

'Brilliant Healthcare and Stem Career forum hosted by #WITS (Women in Technology and Science). Great to hear so many inspiring stories from these amazing women who work in the #STEM industry!'